Career skills

How long do internships last?

How long do internships last? A typical full-time summer internship lasts 2-3 months. But, depending on the role and context, an internship could last as little as four weeks or as long as a year.

Internship Duration FAQ

How long do summer internships last?

Most summer internships (or other full-time internships for students) last 2-3 months. If you’re trying to do two internships in a summer, you could make them as short as 4-6 weeks if your employer agrees.

How long do part-time internships last?

Part-time internships during school will typically list at least 3 months, but more typically 6-9 months. Even a 9-month part-time internship isn’t as useful to your employer as a 2-month full-time internship.

How long do fellowships last?

Often, longer internships will be branded as “fellowships. These will usually last one year, but could be six months or even two years. Calling something a “fellowship” is really a way to get away with underpaying a full-time employee.

How long do unpaid internships last?

Unpaid internships are comparable to paid internships in length (so 2-3 months for full-time and 3-9 months for part-time), but often a bit shorter.

What factors determine how long internships last?

From the employer’s perspective, there are five main factors that influence how long an internship lasts:

  1. Full-time or part-time. Part-time internships will be much longer than full-time ones – so that they both have roughly equivalent number of hours. (For example, a 2-month full-time internship is similar to eight months at 10 hours per week.)
  2. Degree of prior experience. The more relevant experience you have, the shorter internship you can get away with. (Companies are thinking about how much time it will take to get useful work out of you.)
  3. Amount of experience required. Roles that require less experience will be more tolerant of shorter internships, since you won’t take as much time to get you productive.
  4. Before or after graduation. Typically, post-graduate internships will tend to be longer. Employers often think of these as “options” to hire you full-time, so a six-month internship could turn into a full time offer after a few months.
  5. Selling or working internship. Some companies – especially very prestigious and selective firms – expect to offer full-time jobs to the majority of interns. These companies spend a lot of time “selling” you on the full-time role, and will tend to be more open to shorter summer internships than companies that are primarily trying to get productive work from their interns.

How to ask for a longer internship

Most companies will be happy to give you a longer internship, since that means they’ll be able to get more productivity out of you.

You can ask for a longer internship, after being given an offer. Here’s what to say:

Thanks so much for the offer! I’m really excited about it. I had one big question for you: would you be open to extending the internship from 2 months to 4 months? I’d really appreciate more experience in [content marketing], and hopefully that way you could get more work from me for all the time you put into hiring and onboarding me.

Example of how to ask for a longer internship

How to ask for a shorter internship

Sometimes, you might want to ask for a shorter internship – especially if you’re trying to do two internships over a summer. For most companies, this will be harder than asking for a longer internship, because they know that you won’t be very productive during the first few weeks of an internship, as you get oriented and up to speed.

Here’s what to say:

Thank you so much for the offer – i’m really excited. I had one question to ask: would you be open to a six-week internship, instead of 2-months? I received another offer for four weeks at the beginning of the summer and I’d really like to do both, so I can decide if I want to go into Operations or Product Management after graduating. Would this be possible?

Example of how to ask for a shorter internship

More resources on internships

By Taylor Thompson

Taylor is a co-founder at Purpose Built Ventures, where he helps launch mission-driven companies. Before Purpose Built, Taylor led growth at Almanac, strategy for Curious Learning, and product at PharmaSecure. His work helps 100,000s of people collaborate at work, 4 million children learn to read, and protects billions of medicines from counterfeiting. He has hired dozens of people, helped raise more than $50 million, and contributed to as a researcher with Clay Christensen. Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow, and he has degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

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